Efficient use of technology has this company on the fast track.
As a kid, John Maybury was fascinated by all things motorized—dirt bikes, lawn mowers, racing cars. It’s a habit that hasn’t gone away. “I collect anything that has a motor, almost to a fault. My wife has concerns about how many things I have in my barn: motorcycles, snowmobiles, boats, race car engines, just all kinds of stuff,” says Maybury, who has parlayed that quizzical nature and mechanical know-how into his role as owner of one of the largest and most successful material handling companies in the Northeast.
He started Maybury Material Handling in his hometown of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, in 1976, using his father Tom’s contacts in local manufacturing businesses. The raw enthusiasm displayed by the then-18-year-old was enough to win over a few customers, and Maybury soon received his first order for workbenches and stools.
The following year Tom left his consulting job to rejoin the material handling business, and sales reached $1 million. In 1978, John left behind his engineering and business studies at Western New England College to concentrate full time on his burgeoning company. He and his father continued to grow the company, working out of their house until acquiring their own building in 1981.
At that time, Maybury Material Handling had 11 employees who built mezzanines, platforms and stairs while also selling what was made by outside manufacturers. The company has since grown rapidly and changed its scope. “We have seen growth in employees, sales volume, product portfolio and the changing demands of customers, all of which required us to establish clear policies and procedures in every area of the company,” Maybury notes. “Communications have become more formalized, and a clear mission, vision and strategic plan were developed. We outgrew the old processes common to small family businesses, necessitating a focused effort on defining many changes over our 30 years.”
Seven other people serve as team leaders in addition to President John Maybury. His wife Sandy serves as clerk and office manager, and Dick Moriarty serves as treasurer. Supporting units include IT, safety, human resources, operations and aftermarket. The leaders of each of these departments form a cohesive unit that enables the company’s 73 employees to act in harmony with each other. “Keeping employees satisfied in an environment where there is constant change is a challenge. We stress the need for regular and clear communication to all our associates,” Maybury says. Managers hold regular department meetings, and a biweekly employee newsletter keeps everyone in the loop. The company offers ongoing opportunities for employees to develop through an internal job posting program and other professional growth opportunities.
Employees appreciate this, as well as teamwork incentives. “We reward employees who submit sales leads, and we encourage associates to recognize others who have demonstrated teamwork, quality customer service, innovation or other noteworthy efforts at work,” Maybury says.
Despite its rapid growth, Maybury Material Handling still has the feel of a smaller company. In its infancy, the big business decisions were directed by the Maybury family. Today, much of that responsibility has been delegated to their leadership team and experienced, professional staff to make daily decisions supporting the company’s mission and goals. “Although we have released a lot of the decision-making power, we work hard to maintain a friendly and supportive work environment where many of us are both work associates and friends,” Maybury says. “We’ve been able to strike a balance between fostering friendships and fun, without compromising business results.”
It all has added up to a workforce of 73 employees averaging about ten years of tenure. It seems that the trust exhibited by management is a major reason for workers’ lengthy stays. “We are growing a culture that allows employees to feel empowered to make day-to-day business decisions in support of company and department goals,” Maybury says. “Change is something that we are not afraid of at Maybury. If there is a better way to do something, we are looking for it. Although we are a performance-focused company, we have tried to maintain a work culture where people enjoy coming to work.” The company has received two Massachusetts State Training Grants, allowing it to train the concepts of self-managed teams and continuous improvement.
This focus on training means Maybury does not have to limit himself when searching for new employees. “Although it is great to find people with a background in material handling, it is not our priority. We can train people on the technical aspects of the job, but we look for the prospective employee to bring qualities such as work ethic, integrity, an eye for innovation, and a passion for quality customer service and team work.”
Another reason for the company’s success is its commitment to staying on the cutting edge of technology, including at its new 42,000-square-foot facility completed in 2005. “We provide the technology support that allows associates to see how their team is performing against targets, and they are encouraged to work as a team to make changes in processes, priorities and schedules in order to meet goals,” Maybury says. For example, Maybury and his team created their own software programs to make their operations more efficient. Every project is entered into the system and its progress noted. A green dot indicates the project is on track, while a red X alerts the project manager of a problem and where to locate the source.
The service department also is assisted by technology and the use of BlackBerries. Technicians can easily access the company’s intranet and find out the repair history of any specific forklift or sweeper machine sold or rented by Maybury.
As a full-scale distributor for 1,300 manufacturers, Maybury Material Handling supplies virtually any and all material handling equipment, including lift trucks, conveyors, rack, shelving, mezzanines, in-plant offices, cranes, hoists, dock equipment, high speed doors, and safety and ergonomic/productivity enhancing products. However, the company’s annual revenue is split roughly 50-50 between lift truck sales and maintenance and engineered systems. This broad base has allowed the company to remain profitable in every year except two. During the recession that plagued the industry in 2002-2003, Maybury was able to weather the storm. “Revenues were stagnant, but we did not see the same decline as others in the industry,” he said. “Since then, we’ve been steadily growing.”
But Maybury won’t fall into the growth trap. The company consciously limits its primary territory to western Massachusetts, the Worcester area and Connecticut, selling to everyone from large manufacturers to small mom-and-pop companies in a wide range of industries. “We truly are a one-stop shop for all of anyone’s material handling needs,” Maybury says. “One of our main products is service, so we don’t want to sell so far away that service won’t be effective and cost-efficient.”
It all reflects the company’s mission statement: Continually increase market share of satisfied customers by providing quality industrial products and services of exceptional value. Provide a safe, honest, participative environment with the opportunity for each individual to learn and develop his or her full potential. “We’re pretty steadfast in maintaining our integral, core competency. We’re not trying to be all things to all people.”
With the leadership team in place at Maybury Material Handling, this successful formula should produce prosperity for years to come.